While each day in America, more and more women come forward with stories of the misogyny and sexual assault they have experienced throughout their lives — thanks to the #MeToo campaign — the French are participating, too, only with a much more explicit campaign name: Denounce the Pigs.
In an ideal world, of course, sexual assault and harassment would not be universal experiences. It’s sad and frustrating that so many English speakers are stepping forward and sharing their experiences with sexual misconduct, via personal essays, Twitter, Instagram, or whichever platform they choose. But now, with #MeToo exploding, the campaign is transcending language barriers, even prompting bilingual versions to crop up in other countries. While it’s amazing (and important!) that the campaign has taken off and is spawning the support of other victims in other countries, who speak other languages, it’s also quite the reality check — the ultimate reinforcement that this issue is clearly larger than we like to think.
#BalanceTonPorc translates to “Out the Pigs.”
Or, depending on your translation, “denounce the pigs” or “expose your pigs.” Call it graphic, call it savage, but #BalanceTonPorc is doing something universally important, something #MeToo has somewhat failed to do. By calling a campaign in which women (and men) come forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault “Me Too,” you’re creating a safe space for people to come out. But herein also lies the problem — why must we “come clean” about the wrongs of others? The victims of these sexual crimes are not the ones who have behaved badly or inappropriately. They were simply victims and yet, we still feel the need to confess sins that aren’t ours as if we’re the ones who are dirty, who have wronged, who have acted out of line.
French women, however, have no such shame about the crimes committed against them. By calling the campaign “Denounce the Pigs”, French women are putting the reigns back in the hands of the people they belong to: the assaulters. Why should a victim hold the shame and guilt of a crime if she is not the one who committed it?
Why #MeToo is important.
#MeToo is crucial for many reasons, but one of the most crucial responses is the strong possibility of legislation. France has a gender equality minister, Marlène Schiappa — someone pitch that to Donald Trump, LOL — and she has already started putting plans into motion. One such plan is a bill proposal that fines aggressors for harassing and catcalling people in the streets.
Previously, in a piece for The Guardian, Schiappa put a potential price on those catcalling fines — and it’s hefty. She said,
“Twenty euros would be a bit humiliating, €5,000 would be more of a deterrent. At the moment, many men are saying, ‘It’s not a big deal, we’re only having fun.’ And we say, ‘No.’”
In American dollars, 5,000 euros translates to almost $6,000. With that amount of cash on the line, Schiappa may be onto something.
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This is how #MeToo started.
In case you need a refresher, the origins of #MeToo are humble and well-intentioned. The simple two words were started by Tarana Burke in 2007, who founded a non-profit called Just Be Inc., which strives to provide resources for victims of sexual harassment and assault. The hashtag campaign detonated online when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet” along with a photo that read, “Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'”
And now, the movement has overflown with participants of all races, origins, languages, and genders, proving the impact, and as Alyssa Milano’s friend suggested, the magnitude of this issue.
Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer, brand consultant, and blogger (@stephosmanski) who specializes in health and wellness content. Her words have appeared on Seventeen, Life & Style, Darling Magazine, and more. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton and writing a memoir.